New Georgia Mental Health Law Comes Into Force, But Many Changes Will Take Time – WABE

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This month marks the start of Georgia’s new Mental Health Parity Act and a major overhaul of the state’s mental health care system.

HB 1013, supported by House Speaker David Ralston, is designed to expand access to affordable mental health treatment and behavioral health services across the state.

The parity law means – for the first time in Georgia – that all health insurance plans must cover mental health issues on the same basis as physical issues, so patients can no longer be medically denied treatment necessary.

The law also changes the process by which police can take a person showing signs of imminent risk of harm to themselves or others to treatment or for an emergency assessment.

The Parity Act provides more training for law enforcement and helps pay to set up more needed mental health crisis centers across Georgia.

To help boost Georgia’s lagging mental health provider pipeline, the law also establishes a loan forgiveness program for people studying to become mental health professionals.

It also obliges insurers to collect and communicate to the State data on compliance with parity.

A spokesperson for the insurance commissioner’s office said the department would post the first published parity reports online by January 1, 2024.

Mental Health Parity Act includes funding to hire a new Mental Health Parity Officer within the state Department of Insurance to oversee implementation of the law and potentially investigate potential parity violations in mental health.

Hiring for this position has already started and could take months.

Anyone interested in filing a complaint about mental health parity issues can still do so now through the state insurance department by calling (800) 656-2298 or visiting: oci.georgia.gov/insurance-resources/complaints-fraud.

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